Mindfulness research is topic for two days of public events

Richard Davidson
Richard Davidson

The author of a book given to first-year UO students to spark conversation about personal well-being will be on campus Feb. 9 as keynote speaker for the second annual Symposium on Mindfulness in Science and Society.

The symposium, organized by UO faculty last year, aims to provide the latest information on mindfulness — a meditation technique — and how it triggers beneficial brain activity. Beginning at 10 a.m. the next day, a Mindfulness Showcase will feature a series of workshops with UO researchers discussing how mindfulness training has provided benefits in various settings.

Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will deliver the symposium's keynote address at 7 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union Ballroom. His topic will be "Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind: Neuroscientific Studies of Meditation."

Davidson is known for his pioneering work studying emotion and the brain. His recent book, "The Emotional Life of Your Brain," was chosen for the UO's Undergraduate Studies Common Reading Program as a tool to introduce the breadth of research being conducted by UO faculty and graduate students on the neurological basis of mindfulness practices such as meditation, tai chi and yoga.

The Feb. 9 symposium will begin at 1 p.m. in the Lee Barlow Guistina Ballroom of the Ford Alumni Center. Clifford Saron of the University of California at Davis will detail some of the research being done on the effects of intensive meditation training in the Shamatha Project, which he directs. Five UO scientists will discuss their research in subsequent talks, which end with a reception at 5 p.m.

The next day's Mindfulness Showcase will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the EMU Gumwood Room. Among the topics are how mindfulness connects with yoga, cognitive therapy, higher education and elementary school.

An overview on UO mindfulness research will be led by Cris Niell, assistant professor in the UO's Institute of Neuroscience and an organizer of the symposium, and Marjorie Woolacott, professor emerita of human physiology.

Sponsors of the two events are the College of Arts and Sciences, departments of biology and psychology, and Undergraduate Studies Common Reading Program, with support from the offices of the president and the vice president for student life.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information call 541-346-1221 or see the schedule for both events on the web. For sign language interpreting or other disability-related accommodations, call before Feb 2. Davidson's lecture will be ASL interpreted.

—By Jim Barlow, Public Affairs Communications